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Myths and Facts of Domestic Violence

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During Week 1 of training to become an advocate / counselor for Domestic Violence Services of Southwestern PA, I attended a three-hour in-person training session, and completed close to six hours of online training.  There is so much to learn!

Please see the myths and facts below to learn a bit about this pervasive problem. By dispelling myths, we can better support victims and batterers.

The Myth: It’s Just A Domestic Dispute

The Reality: It’s Actually A Deadly Crime

It’s against the law to abuse a family or household member or intimate partner. Domestic violence often is more brutal and deadly than stranger-on-stranger assault. Without appropriate intervention, the violence may only get worse and continue into the next generation.

The Myth: It Doesn’t Happen In My Neighborhood

The Reality: It Can Happen Anywhere

Domestic violence happens in all communities, at all income and education levels, with victims and perpetrators representing a diverse cross-section of society. Where someone lives has little to do with the people they live with and what goes on behind their closed doors.

The Myth: It’s Not My Business

The Reality: It’s Everyone’s Business

Domestic violence takes a toll on the entire community. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates the annual cost of lost productivity due to domestic violence equals $727.8 million, with more than 7.9 million paid workdays lost each year.

The CDC also estimates the health-related costs of intimate partner rape, physical assault, stalking and homicide exceed $5.8 billion each year, with $4.1 billion going toward direct medical and mental health-related services. And many times, the cost is someone’s life.

The Myth: It’s Love Gone Wrong

The Reality: Love Has Nothing To Do With It

Domestic violence is about obsession, possession, revenge, power and control. An abuser doesn’t just “snap.” The violence most often is methodical, calculating, and intended to cause fear and inflict injury – or worse.

The Myth: It’s The Economy

The Reality: It’s Domestic Violence Made Worse By The Economy

Recession, unemployment and empty bank accounts create stress that can intensify situations where domestic violence already exists. Many programs in Pennsylvania and around the country attribute their overflowing shelters and waiting lists to the financial hardships confronting victims and their batterers.

Domestic violence advocates are gravely concerned for the safety of victims and their children who now have fewer options and resources as the abuse escalates and funding for local domestic violence programs dwindles.

The Myth: If She Wanted To Get Help, She’d Ask For It

The Reality: It’s Not That Easy

In homes where domestic violence is a way of life, fear and intimidation can cripple and paralyze to the extent that victims aren’t able to reach out for help. Batterers often isolate victims from families, friends, neighbors and other people who could help, if only they knew about the abuse.

The Myth: She Should Just Leave

The Reality: It’s More Complicated Than That

Victims stay with or return to their batterers for multiple reasons, including:

• Fear the violence will intensify if they leave. Victims often are in the most danger when they attempt to end the relationship.

• Fear their batterers will retaliate against their children if they leave or seek custody. They may sacrifice their own safety so their children can have a father, good schools, a roof over their heads, and financial security.

• The hope their batterers can change with counseling.

• Their love for their partners and their willingness to forgive them.

• The lack of support systems to help them escape the abuse because their batterers have deliberately and systematically isolated them from family, friends, co-workers and others.